Family and the holidays

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Don't look now, but they're coming. You probably can't hide; some of them will be staying at your house.

Yes, it's the holiday season, and your extended family is coming to visit.

I shouldn't make it sound like a chore. Many of us love spending time with family, and even when the occasional odd relative shows up, we make do. We silently agree not to argue about which type of stuffing is better, whether to watch football or rom-coms, religion (trickier at Christmas and Hanukkah) and politics. (Trust me: Debating Donald Trump's viability doesn't go down smoother with eggnog.)

But no matter how hard you try, there will be times, even with people you love, when you'll want to pound someone with a drumstick. Here are a few tips to reduce your stress and avoid assault with a turkey leg:

Share the work. Some families dump most of the cooking on the host, often because that person "always cooks Thanksgiving dinner." And these people (often referred to as Grandma) seem to love that. But why should one person wrestle with the turkey, mash the potatoes, bake the pies, boil cranberries, churn butter … well, you get the idea. If people offer to bring something, let them. It takes stress off you. And if you're the guest, bring along a pie or side dish.

Be patient. The larger your group, the greater the chance that someone will be late. Don't be that person who says, "Everyone knows we eat at 1!" and then announces it again at 1:30, 2:00 and 3:45. That just stresses everyone out. And if you're the one running late, let someone know. Heck, you might even tell them to start without you; someone will save you turkey.

Avoid topics that've been talked to death, resurrected and then killed again without resolution. If you didn't work it out before, it won't be any different when everyone's hungry and someone's bellowing, "Everyone knows we eat at 1!" (If you really can't resolve an issue, try family therapy. You'll be thankful you did.)

Don't gossip about each other. Ben Franklin said, "Three people keep a secret if two of them are dead." What you say in the kitchen while mashing potatoes is guaranteed to filter to the karaoke group in the garage within an hour.

Try not to take anything too seriously. So what if there are lumps in the gravy, or the meringue won't fluff, or the seating chart is off? You're there to enjoy a meal, not to get a positive rating on Yelp.

If you still find yourself so stressed that you want to pound something, try this simple deep-breathing exercise. Breathe in slowly through the nose, pause for a second, then slowly - so that it feels like blowing out a birthday candle in slow motion - exhale through your mouth. Repeat as many times as needed to keep you from braining somebody with the gravy ladle.

- Carl Grody, LISW-S, is a licensedindependentsocial worker who works with families at Grody Family Counseling in Worthington.